Friday, June 25, 2010

Is Sea Shepherd really saving whales?

With the announcement of a not-so-surprising impasse at this years IWC meeting Southern Fried Science takes a hard look at the "other effort" to curb whaling.

The data reveals activist conservation that is more about the media byte than saving whales.

Are we really being effective, or can whale conservation folks break free of the cycle of impasse and group think?

Southern Fried Science

Sea Shepherd claims that their actions in the Southern Ocean opposing Japanese whaling fleets has effectively reduced the number of whales killed. What always rubbed me the wrong way about these claims is that they always compare their success against the Institute for Cetacean Research (the Japanese organization that oversees ‘scientific whaling’) Quotas. So at some point you have to ask the question, in absolute numbers, has Sea Shepherd really reduced the number of whales killed?

To answer that we need three pieces of information:

  1. When did Sea Shepherd begin it’s campaign against Japanese ‘scientific whaling’?
  2. What are the ICR quotas for that time frame?
  3. What are the absolute catches for that time frame?

Sea Shepherd provides a comprehensive timeline for their whaling campaigns that indicates serious opposition in the Southern Ocean began in December 2002.

For the two other questions, we turn to Whale and Dolphin Conservation International, who have produced a truly exceptional interactive graph of the history of whaling since the inception of the International Whaling Convention by the numbers. The relevant figure is reproduced below:

From this graph, we can see that Sea Shepherd began its campaign when whale catches were at their lowest, and catches have increased since then. Despite their claims of preventing whaling, we can see that more whales were killed per year after 2004 than any year before 2004. In other words, more whales are dying on Sea Shepherd’s watch.

Complete Post.

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